“He raised money for potato salad,” Webster University student Katie Ploesser said. “He only wanted like $10, but he raised $50,000. He threw a potato salad party because he raised so much money.”
Ploesser is referring to Zack Brown, a man who went viral in August 2014 after creating a Kickstarter campaign to make potato salad. In this case, crowdfunding was used as a joke. But for Webster students, crowdfunding websites offer an opportunity to accomplish school projects and achieve life goals.
To crowdfund, people can utilize websites like GoFundMe, Indiegogo and Kickstarter to create a campaign and raise funds through known or anonymous backers. The people creating crowdfunding projects will often make a video to share on social media for more attention to their campaign. Backers will receive perks depending on how much money they donate.
Scott Pinkston used Kickstarter with Ploesser this last summer to create a video in their free time, a Law and Order parody called “Good Cop Cat Cop.” They made $444, exceeding their $300 goal.
“We just made the campaign video funny to draw people in,” Pinkston said.
Jonathon Musgrave said when he set his crowdfunding campaign at $2500, it was a higher than average amount for students to be asking for in their crowdfunding efforts.
“I wanted to raise a lot of money so I could shoot at cool locations, use good props, eat good food, all of that,” Musgrave said. “But it was definitely a success because of the large donations that I got.”
Musgrave raised money for his senior film project “Goldie & Tom.” Within 12 hours of putting up the campaign, he received $1000 from an anonymous backer. He said later on, he discovered it was a Webster alumnus who was a senior during his freshman year.
“He had his dream job and wanted to support film majors, and he said he saw something in me that made him want to give me the money,” Musgrave said. “It was huge. It really motivated me to make the project even better than I had planned because he really believed in me.”
He said one of the reasons his campaign was so successful was because he put a lot of focus into creating a shareable video that could be promoted on social media.
Webster alumni Ford Fanter remembers a time during his junior year, when a senior film student had to take out a loan in order to fund a short film project for his senior overview class. Fanter said now, most film students use crowdfunding in order to have the money to create short films and school projects.
“It’s kind of amazing that in the time between his overview class and mine, it was a difference of taking out a loan and crowdfunding,” Fanter said.
Fanter set a goal of $1,000 for his senior overview project, a short film titled “Bonfire Boys.” His campaign ended up raising $1,450 in 22 days. He said he only had one month to raise the money and was worried about making the goal, so he was surprised that he passed his goal by such a large number.
Film majors aren’t the only students at Webster using crowdfunding to accomplish goals. Senior advertising and marketing major Alexy Irving started a crowdfunding campaign last Spring to fund her study abroad trip to Thailand. Though she generated enough money to provide food and toiletries for studying abroad, she was unable to make the trip due to her passport being stolen.
“It was just inspiring that people donated to my cause and spread the word about what I was doing,” Irving said.
Most crowdfunding websites take a certain percentage of the funds that are raised, and some even take 100% of the money if the campaign fails to meet its goal. Irving regretted using GoFundMe, since the website took a large percentage of the money that she raised towards her $2500 goal. But she isn’t the only one with reservations about crowdfunding. Fanter worries that crowdfunding is the kind of thing that could get old quickly.
“Like I don’t want to be begging for money all the time, and you can’t throw money towards everything,” Fanter said.
But while the popularity of crowdfunding continues, he thinks that the sky’s the limit as far as what one could raise money for. He said he has seen people crowdfund for a number of things, including paying for veterinarian and hospital bills.
“There seems to be no limit to what you can do with it,” Fanter said.